Dexter Fittin In

Elementary students connect with local author
Posted on 03/23/2021
Michele Webb

Second graders were overjoyed to meet a local author for the first time in their lives in most cases after reading the recently published book as a class assignment.

Writer of “Dexter Fittin In: Stepping Through Life One Paw at a Time,” Michele Webb of Poplar Bluff visited the R-I elementary schools beginning with Oak Grove on Wednesday, March 17, and will wrap up with Eugene Field this week.

Student Spencer Leonard said he gives the children’s book “five stars,” and Jael Robinson said Webb was now her second favorite author behind her mother, Candace. Classmate Harley Crum-Garner said it is “probably gonna be the only book I’m gonna read” when he found out it would be made available in the school library.

Four years in the works, Webb finished writing her book in January of last year, and had it published by Page Publishing in Pennsylvania in October. Having previously met the superintendent during service at her family’s church, Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist, Webb approached Dr. Scott Dill earlier this year about possibly having the book incorporated into the curriculum. The district opted to acquire some copies and distribute the book to second grade teachers, as well as elementary school libraries across campus.

“Dexter Fittin In" is written from the perspective of a beagle/dachshund rescue puppy who joins the household of an older Yorkshire terrier and has to “learn the ropes,” according to Webb. The story touches on themes of blended families, she said, while incorporating lots of humor.

“You gotta normalize it; sometimes we make life too hard,” Webb commented afterward. “To the students, I’m just Dexter’s mom.”

Contemplating what resonated the most with the children, second grade teacher Whitney Conover said: “They thought the dogs talking was hilarious.” Teacher Hanna Barton agreed, stating that the students “giggled more than any book ever,” adding: “He acts like them. They’re finding their way through life, and so is Dexter.”

The second graders, many of whom are 8 years old like Dexter today, grew excited when Webb confirmed that all their favorite scenes derived from true stories. “Well, obviously I have to interpret what the dog’s thinking and said – I can’t interview him,” Webb elaborated. “It’s my own interpretation of a real situation, let’s say.”

In her day job, Webb works for American Express. Since her career requires much travel, she decided to get a second dog to accompany her now 13-year-old Reilly, and she recalled observing how hard Dexter worked to fit in. “I had a story to tell and wanted to tell it,” Webb said to the students. “Guess who else can write a book: Anyone.”

Faculty member Carey Wilkerson asked Webb to talk about the writing process a bit, and the author shared how it begins with an editor, then an illustrator for the pages and the cover art, and finally the printing process.

Webb later revealed, to the delight of the students, that she has since gotten two new Rottweilers, and has a goal of submitting a sequel to her publisher by the end of the summer if she can get back into her writing groove. She is presently organizing the chapters.

“After my chores today, I’m making a story and I’m gonna show it to my teacher, and maybe I can show it to you,” student Faith Jones was proud to announce. “You inspired me to write my own.”

“Dexter Fittin In” is available on Amazon.com, or a personalized copy can be purchased at www.michelewebbinc.com.

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Cutline: Michele Webb, author of “Dexter Fittin In,” kicks off her elementary school book tour on St. Patrick’s Day at Oak Grove.

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